Hearing of 15 journalists takes place today in Amed

The lawsuit brought against 15 journalists in Amed undermines the basic principle of freedom of the press, said the Swiss Kurdistan Journalists Association, demanding the Turkish authorities to respect the rights of journalists and release them.

The Swiss Kurdistan Journalists' Association made a statement about the hearing of 15 journalists, who were detained and imprisoned 13 months ago because of their job in Amed, to be held today.

The statement said that the independence and safety of journalists are of fundamental importance for ensuring the public's right to receive information, and called on the Turkish authorities to "respect the rights of journalists and release them immediately" and to all journalist organizations "to show solidarity with our colleagues and ensure their protection, as well as international human rights mechanisms." The statement also called on everyone in Amed to attend the hearing.

The statement added: "We believe in the importance of protecting the freedom of journalism."

One year ago, on 8 June, police in Amed (Diyarbakır) raided the newsroom of the  website Jin News, confiscated computer hard drives, and also detained Jin News manager Safiye Alagaş and editor Gülşen Koçuk after raiding their homes and confiscating their phones and other equipment, according to those reports, which said authorities did not provide information to the journalists’ lawyers about the operations or the investigation.

Diyarbakır police also detained Mezopotamya News Agency editors Aziz Oruç and Mehmet Ali Ertaş, former Mezopotamya editor Ömer Çelik, freelance journalists Lezgin Akdeniz, Kadir Bayram, and Serdar Altan, and Mehmet Şahin, a columnist with the Kurdish-language weekly Xwebûn.

One year on, 16 journalists are still in prison. Lawyer Resul Temur said that the indictment prepared against them accuses them for their  journalistic activities and added that the long detention process has turned into an arbitrary punishment.

As part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, 22 people, 20 of them journalists, were detained in raids on houses and media outlets in many Amed-centered cities on 8 June 2022. Among those detained, were JinNews Director Safiye Alagaş, Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DGF) Co-chair Serdar Altan, Mesopotamia Agency (MA) editor Aziz Oruç, Xwebûn Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş, journalists Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Ömer Çelik, Mazlum Doğan Güler, İbrahim Koyuncu, Neşe Toprak, Elif Üngür, Abdurrahman Öncü, Suat Doğuhan, Remziye Temel, Ramazan Geciken, Lezgin Akdeniz and Mehmet Şahin were arrested 8 days later by the court they were brought to.

After 10 months, an indictment was prepared against 18 journalists, 2 of them not in prison, demanding 7 years, 6 months to 15 years in prison for "membership in a terrorist organization".